Ecstasy is not a faraway, unreachable dimension. It is right here, just a few feet away from the sleep of the senses. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path
Saturday lunchtime BJJ in Seattle.
I had forgotten about the training camp… the visiting black belt who is doing the training camp was running basics class. I hid in the locker room because if I’d gone out to sit by the mat and watch, Rodrigo would have insisted I go on the mat even though I didn’t pay for the training camp, and I’m not fishing for charity.
I had a good stretching session, did some Tai Chi short form, then Chen Dao and Catherine Dao with a coat hanger substituting for the dao.
Competition class. Positional sparring. I wasn’t doing that great, but I also had a very challenging group of people to deal with. Rodrigo divided us up into pods by size and rank, and I was in the “Small But Mighty” group- Suranjan, Lindsey, Z, Coach Dynamo, a couple of others, but no easy marks.
I love watching Z and Suranjan fight- I told Lindsey that they look like a couple of overcaffeinated ferrets. With ten legs apiece. And rabies. In a clothes dryer set on Fast Spin. They just whirl in a blurred little furious ball and you can hardly even follow the action.
One long roll with a Small But Mighty blue belt that I’m not familiar with. I spent almost the entire time struggling to pass his guard, with a couple of brief intervals where I found myself on the bottom and he was passing *my* guard. My guard passes are decent- but damn, he played excellent guard.
Then I got Cindy, who had just come in and was nice and fresh. It quickly became apparent the The Move Of The Day was the crucifix. Before long, my objective of “survive” became “try to last thirty seconds without finding yourself crucifixed.” We did some standup, too (no-gi). I feel so intimidated trying to do standup with Cindy. I felt like I was doing really terrible overall, but she told me I was good. It really is impossible to tell how I’m doing when I’m rolling with Cindy…. I just know that lying on the bottom like a possum is bad.
Turtle Drum. This was interesting. I walked in and set my stuff down, and immediately Jen pounces on me because my rug is too close to the altar and there is too much water in my mug (!). “You’re breaking all the rules!” I was aghast. I shoved my rug back against the wall and dumped half the water into a plant (this was a mug of water with a little floating turtle candle in it, for the altar). “But if we don’t get that many people, you’ll need to be closer in than that.” “In that case, I’ll move.” “Oh, do whatever you want.” She flaps her hands and walks away.
Five minutes later, here she is again: “Wow, why did I just jump down your throat like that? Guess it’s turned into a knee-jerk reaction whenever I see you in here, ha ha.”
What the hell????!?!? We had a whole freaking encounter session about her cutting me down with her criticism to the point that I didn’t even want to be a facilitator for this event any more. She wants me to come back and run this shindig- ideally next month- but within sixty seconds of my entering the building as a mere participant, she’s all up my butt. And the most bizarre part of that was not even questioning the amount of water in my mug, it was the fact that I could see that she was wrestling with herself to try to narrow my list of sins to just those two…. she, like, visibly bit her tongue and stopped herself after the “rug” and “water”. What is going on here? Is she subconsciously threatened by me? Is she a drama whore? Is this just how she reacts to stress? Are we really stuck in this dynamic? I don’t want to deal with that from her while I’m trying to run a big public event. That will freak me out.
She also did some of the same things tonight that she raked me over the coals for not doing: she did almost no closing at the end (called quarters at the beginning but did not close them at the end; if you’re going to do one, you really should do both), and didn’t shill for money, which was the biggest thing we clashed about that last time.
Otherwise: I had brought the “Tom Ox” drum for the first time, and I think it did well. Also, Tiala (doumbek)- had one very nice song with that- egg shaker, water drum, double woodblock, and the large-size ocarina. It turned out to be a flutey and whistley night. That was mostly really nice, although two or three of them did get a little out of hand a couple of times. I had never used the ocarina here before, but when everybody was making a big flute section, I gave it a try. At first it seemed like it was not in a compatible key, but I went up an octave and found a five-note sequence that seemed to harmonize well.
There was quite a bit of toning and chanting, which people seem to really enjoy, so I’m always happy to see that (and help it along). Some dancing, which to me is also a good indicator of a drum circle going well.
Jen was unhappy with the entire schmeer musically. Thekla also felt that there was some weirdness here and there. I thought it went fine. (And oftentimes, even when the more experienced people at a drum circle think it was a disaster, the newbies still had a blast.)
I was pretty much resolved to go back and try facilitating a Turtle Drum again, but now I’m vascillating (again). I’m not sure if I can deal in a constructive manner with having Jen riding my ass and undermining my confidence while I’m trying to focus on leading a group ritual (which is nervewracking enough when you *don’t* have an authority figure looming over you with a scorecard in her hand).
Having her experience a completely different eval of the energy than I did makes me question my own ability to read the circle. I might have been tempted to write it off as more clash-dynamic if Thekla had not mentioned something “off” as well. Think I will make an open-ended request for participant feedback on the Facebook group (If my internet connection ever comes up again… sigh).
I spent part of the day in the hospital lobby with my laptop and a bag of candy corn, because internet is still down at my place. The Facebook feedback about TD is very positive. Jen bought up the fact that she dropped the ball on the closing. She feels that there was an out-of-control level of “catharsis” going on. I remarked that I think a certain level of “catharsis” is inevitable for an event that close to Samhain, with the theme of “Release into the Beauty of Darkness”, and a few participants had also created a lovely and powerful altar to those who have gone ahead. What do you expect? Kittens and Tinkerbell? I didn’t percieve it as having gotten out of hand.
I ranted some more on Facebook/blogs/forums about Schultz/Maldonado and LI, and got some conversations and shares among my own contacts on it, so that’s a good thing.
Bree sent me photos of three big bruises that I gave her in class the other day.
I should mention- just in case I turn up dead- that the assassin songbird is back. Phock, phock, phock, against the window. He wakes me up every morning at the crack of dawn and comes back periodically all day long to fling himself tirelessly against the glass. Either constant practice at flinging yourself against window glass is like most other things and you get better with more reps, or he’s flitting off to the gym and getting in a little Crossfit between kamikaze bouts- because he’s getting better. The inital soft thumps have turned into hard, sharp raps- to the point that I periodically go downstairs to see if he’s managed to crack the window yet. He’s also figured out that if he goes to the little north-side window, there is some ivy he can perch on and chain his phocks so as to get several blows in succession. So maybe he’s not *quite* as dumb as he seems, or maybe he got this suggestion from his asassin decoder ring. I wonder who put out the hit on me, and for how much.